Monday, March 10, 2008

FAMU Students Spend Spring Break Developing a Caribbean Media Project

Four journalism and graphic communication students from Florida A&M University (FAMU) will travel to Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles during the spring break to help a group of teenage students improve a radio magazine program and to produce a multimedia web site and podcasts that feature the program’s highlights.

The students will be supervised by Professor Joe Ritchie, the Knight Chair in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication at FAMU, who visited the island a year earlier with his wife, Louise Reid Ritchie, as volunteers training the Bonaire youth group on the basic principles of journalism. The Florida Association sponsored the earlier trip for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA).

FAMU students were selected after meeting minimum academic performance criteria and submitting applications centered on essays outlining how they could contribute to the project.

The students on the project are:

Alex Acosta, a senior photography student, is the project’s designated webmaster and still photo archivist. In addition to having been the photo editor and online editor for The Famuan, Alex has been a multimedia intern at the Palm Beach Post and the Tallahassee Democrat.

Jermaine Fletcher is the lead broadcast production team member. A senior broadcast journalism student, Jermaine has interned at ESPN in Bristol, Conn., at Bloomberg News in New York and is currently working as a videographer at WCTV-TV in Tallahassee.

Vanessa Lemaistre, a senior public relations student is the broadcast specialist and reporter for the team. She has worked with Cumulus Broadcasting in Tallahassee and has been a video jockey hosting a Caribbean music program for Video Mix television in Miami. She speaks Creole.

Driadonna Roland, a senior broadcast journalism student, is designated lead broadcast specialist/reporter. Driadonna was an International Radio and Television Society summer fellow and production intern at GREY Worldwide in New York last summer. She has had a number of responsible positions with FAMU student media, including several editing positions with The Famuan, being the weather anchor/producer for the News 20 at Five live television newscast, and hosting a weekly gospel music show on WANM-FM. She also has several national and regional journalism awards to her credit.

“This is truly an outstanding group of students, an all-star cast, and I am confident our hosts in Bonaire will be thoroughly impressed at the quality of this team,” Ritchie said. “The students are excited about this opportunity, and I can’t wait to get them to Bonaire.”

The trip is sponsored through a Knight Chair endowment designed to support professional development activities for FAMU journalism students. Ritchie is a former editor for The Washington Post and Detroit Free Press newspapers with extensive experience in international journalism. He has traveled widely, including previous visits to approximately 20 islands and other territories in the Caribbean region, among other places.

Under separate auspices and as a parallel event sponsored in part by FAVACA, Louise Ritchie and Akin Ritchie, a freshman at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., also will travel to Bonaire and provide training in conflict resolution and communication skills. Both were trained in Washington and are certified facilitators in the Help Increase the Peace Program (HIPP) established by the American Friends Service Committee.

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